Thursday, September 15, 2016

ahimsa & the R_E_S_P_E_C_T principle

i open with this R&B plea.

i'd like to defend an ecological view of ahimsa. jainism was "ecological" before ecology.

my argument takes this deductive form:

all jiva are sentient
we (jiva) are all ONE
himsa-ing jiva is himsa-ing ONEself, i.e., all. 
THUS, himsa-ing is wrong.

the jaina ecological approach strikes a balance between jiva (human & non-human animals) and a-jiva (plant life, fungi & protista & non cellular life and the rest). how to bring all this together? to address the idea of balance let's take a look at immanuel kant's second formulation:

treat people as ends never as means to an end 

why only (Menschheit)?  universalizability does not obtain exclusively amongst "Mensch." true universalizability must include all Jiva i.e. all sentient beings (including non-human animals of course). would kant agree? not insofar as animals cannot reason. we're all jiva insofar as jiva has vernunft (reason).

non-human animals cannot partake of this moral/political contract. but vernunft is not the best standard in the jiva kingdom, instead, we should go by sentience (here the british utilitarians had an advantage).

jainism finds kantian's ethics too anthropocentric. jainas defend a universal jiva-centered democracy!

how about a-jiva? again, jainism is naturally closer to ajiva than other systems.

a centerpiece of jaina philosophy is that we're all ONE. it's easier to extend ahimsa to ajiva (as far as jiva permits, i.e., jiva has to eat in order to survive), and to extend ahimsa via aparigraha (non-possessiveness), i.e., nature is not ours to possess.   

from ahimsa we get another interesting development: 1- vegetarianism, which according to ayurveda & yoga, lead to clarity and upeksa (equanimity) of mind, while also being beneficial to the body & 2- pacifism in politics (which does not exclude legitimate defense). ahimsa has important politico-economic implications for human interactions. imagine a 3- jaina form of economics.

what would it look like?

1- ahimsa in our business deals, 
2- minimizing jiva suffering instead of increasing human-jiva profits,
3- homo reciprocans over homo economicus (cooperation instead of needless competition, 
still a good but less than capitalism defends), 
3- long term vs. short term profit (observes the future as a stockholder), 
4- conserving instead of wasting (aparigraha),
5- more local less global, (OM), 
6- happiness vs. material gain,